This one is a bit of an undiscovered gem. I spun this disc up after work and the review tended to write itself. It's such a pleasant disc it's hard not to be impressed and enthusiastic about this presentation of simply great music.
This is a tribute to Brian Wilson, who I'm sure all students of popular music would be well aware of. It is a live performance from Radio City Music Hall on the 21st of March, 2001.
And who is a part of this tribute? Well let's start with the artists... Elton John, David Crosby, Vince Gill, Heart, Billy Joel, Aimee Webb, Carly Simon, The Go-Go's, Paul Simon and Ricky Martin. Then there are the guest presenters which includes Rachel Hunter, George Martin, Dennis Hopper (!!!) and host Chazz Palminteri. Wilson himself appears in the second half. Wilson Phillips are also there of, course.
Some of the artists are more successful than others in their versions of Wilson's most excellent songs. Elton John is spectacular, Ricky Martin less so (he's gone by the intro and never comes back on thank god). Billy Joel is not on long enough. Paul Simon's solo performance defies description as it is that beautiful. I've never heard Surfer Girl sung that way, but it's one legend's interpretation of a legendary song. I don't know why Vince Gill is not more well known - his performance here is stellar.
The female performances are less polished than the 'boys' but it's not too bad.
Wilson is extremely 'together' given his much publicised personal problems. He puts in a very competent performance.
The backing band is flawless, without hitting a single wrong note. The Boys Choir of Harlem provides backing on certain tracks. The audience are in heaven, you can even spot some famous faces in there.
I can see this disc being played very often by anyone who buys it. The star tracks would be I Get Around, God Only Knows, Don't Worry Baby, Good Vibrations, Wouldn't It be Nice and Fun Fun Fun. The last few songs are worth it just to see Elton John and Billy Joel bumpin' it on stage.
I cannot describe how fresh and lively the performances are; perhaps that is a part of why Wilson is so revered.
Here's the track list and accompanying artists:
- Our Prayer - Boys Choir of Harlem
- California Girls - Ricky Martin
- Help Me Rhonda - Ricky Martin
- Surfer Girl - Paul Simon
- Surf City - Go-Go's
- In My Room - David Crosby, Carly Simon, Jimmy Webb
- The Warmth Of The Sun - Vince Gill
- I Get Around - Evan and Jaron
- God Only Knows - Elton John
- I Just Wasn't Made For These Times - Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
- Don't Worry Baby - Billy Joel
- Sail On Sailor - Darius Rucker, Matthew Sweet
- You're So Good To Me - Wilson Phillips
- Good Vibrations - Heart, Jubilant Sykes
- Surf's Up - David Crosby, Vince Gill, Jimmy Webb
- Heroes and Villains - Brian Wilson
- Wouldn't It Be Nice - Elton John, Brian Wilson
- Barbara Ann - Brian Wilson, Ensemble
- Fun, Fun, Fun - Brian Wilson, Ensemble
- Love and Mercy - Brian Wilson, Boys Choir of Harlem
Excellent! Anamorphic 1.78:1 and very spotless, an extremely colourful and visually pleasing production. The clarity is excellent and the stage is exceptionally captured by the widescreen transfer.
The transfer seems to have that sheen of a large budget, very professional shoot with what looks like top grade cameras. That is matched by intensely intelligent direction and editing. If anything there is a slight bloom on colours with the crowd looking a little too 'ruddy', however I'm simply running out of things to criticise. Some of the artists also wear patterned clothes that tend to shimmer a bit.
There is also some black and white archival footage and that is also remarkably good looking given its age. Fans of Wilson and his little known band (heh!) will be enthralled with the commentary and insights into Pet Sounds and other milestones.
There are three audio tracks:
The DTS audio track is the star attraction - it is a full bandwidth 1,536k/s 5.1 track that is close to being amongst the 'DTS legends' that you've heard like the Eagles, Eric Clapton and other DTS music DVD's you seen and heard. I don't think it quite reaches the best DTS music I've heard but it comes very, very close.
Vocals are excellent with seamless integration with the music. Every singer has their clear trademark sound over Wilson's songs. The instruments exhibit excellent fidelity and separation. The bass is very strong and imparts an impressive kick to the drums. Ambience is convincing with restrained use of rears.
The 448k/s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is much lesser in all respects, as expected. However the biggest problem I have with it is that the presentation through the mix sounds different, with the backing band diminished and vocals elevated. There is less music, less frequency response with lower bass and diminished treble. Cymbals and the higher guitar registers lose their delicacy. It is also higher in volume. This makes initial impressions seem more impressive than the DTS track.
I'm going to ignore the 224k/s Dolby Digital stereo track. The exceptionally flat presentation is a travesty.
The main set of extras are interviews with various artists on personal influences and rehearsal annecdotes. They run about a half a minute or more and vary in their value.
Even the extra track (Do It Again) is available in DTS...
I really like this disc. I can't help it. It's one of those releases that makes one truly love DVD. The material is great, the presentation is professional with the best music DVD-V format available and the extras are a welcome addition. It's all extremely listenable, and I don't think anyone who buys this will be able to not listen to it continuously. It is just infectious 'fun fun fun'!